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Sobering Database Tells The Story of Every American Killed By Police This Year

Even a glance, you’ll get a sense of the severity of the situation.

Image via CC: (Credit: Chris Yarzab)

If you’re looking for an edifying and sobering way to disappear into a big data set, The Guardian has you covered. Its interactive database of people killed by police in the United States covers this year and last with information you can filter according to variables like state, race or ethnicity, and whether or not the deceased were armed at the time of their killing.


Even a glance, you’ll get a sense of the severity of the situation. Although the 569 killed this year alone clearly represents a tiny fraction of the U.S. population, police killings have now outpaced the frequency of lynching in its worst years. At the peak, in 1892, 230 people were lynched, of whom 161 were black. Hoping to underscore the grim comparison, a growing number of activists, writers, and some celebrities have attached the lynching label to this year’s police killings. On Instagram, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick posted footage of the killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, calling it “another murder in the streets because the color of a man’s skin, at the hands of the people who they say will protect us. When will they be held accountable?”

In addition to the Guardian database, The Washington Post has also begun compiling—and updating regularly—a similar record, downloadable here. Describing its methodology, the paper left a harsh caveat: “The Post is not tracking deaths of people in custody, fatal shootings by off-duty officers or deaths in which police gunfire did not kill the individual.” Those calamities push the tally of victims still higher.

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